Monthly Archives: July 2019

Basics of Writing: Setting, and supporting details

Hey everyone,

We have covered Character building, and world building so far this month. This is the third installment in the series. If you are interested in or perhaps missed the first two you can find them here:

World Building: https://christopherjhillger.com/2019/07/09/basics-of-writing-world-building/

Character Building: https://christopherjhillger.com/2019/07/18/basics-of-writing-character-building/

So lets first explain what I mean when I say setting and supporting details. They do sound a lot like world building after all.

So world building is the details within the world you built. For instance, a town inside a country, inside the world you created. Setting is more of the scene in which your characters currently reside. It helps to show things like time of day, time of year, temperature around the characters, etc. These things don’t do much to the world building, they don’t tell much about the world, but do make the time spent reading more immersive and relateable.

So that is what I mean when I say setting, are supportive details any different? Kinda. Supporting details, are things like expressions, clothing, and things within the setting. So in that way yes they are basically the same. But supporting details can also include moods, mentioning of past events in case a reader didn’t read the book before, and references to events that took place off “screen”.

Ok, you explained what your talking about, but why should I care about these? They don’t sound important to the story or the plot.

Glad you brought that up.  I mentioned before that it helps make your story more relatable and immersive, but that is not all. What dose it mean when you say a story is immersive anyway? Well a simple expression for it is “you get lost in the story”, or in other words you loose track of the real world around you and your mind puts you completely in the world of the book/story.

Relatable on the other hand, helps a story be immersive. You bring up things the reader has likely experienced. Simple things like being cold, anxiety, being unsure, clothes not matching or making sense on another person, etc.

If your story is immersive it will flow much better and you will have tapped into what I refer to as “the magic of a good story”. This magic is what captures the imagination of the reader, makes them loose themselves in your story. When you have tapped into this magic that is exclusive to story telling people are far quicker to praise your writing. They will tell your friends about the story, those friends might check it out, and suddenly you could have a best seller, or even just sales in the first place haha.

That magic is hard to cast, and takes a lot of practice. Not everyone can use it to its full effectiveness either, but everyone from a small fish like myself to JK Rolling herself could use with continued practice in tapping into this magic. I call it magic because while we do know what it is, and have a good idea how it works, no one really understands it yet. Stories have always had this quality, even if we go back to the verbal story telling around a campfire on the edge of a cave.

Bards, musicians, authors, public speakers, and  teachers all try to use this elusive magical quality to be able to get the message into the minds of their audience.  It’s importance cannot be understated, and effective use of both setting and supporting details will help you tap into this mysterious and amazing ability.

That’s all I’ve got for you all this week. Until next time, may God bless you and keep you.

Basics of Writing: Character Building

Hey everyone,

Last week we started this series of the Basics of Writing with world building here is a link in case you missed it: https://christopherjhillger.com/2019/07/09/basics-of-writing-world-building/

This week we are diving into some of the basics of Character building. I feel like this topic doesn’t need me to explain why it is important, I mean what kind of story is it if you have poorly built characters? That isn’t to say that books haven’t been written with bad characters, but such stories tend to be forgotten. After all, your characters are (typically) who tells your story to begin with.

So, how do we build a character anyway? Well, it helps if we start with an archetype. You have many to choose from, the “everyman” to “paragon” to “mary sue” just kidding don’t use that last one. Now, please understand me here, Do Not stick to an archetype solely, or force a character to only fit in one category. Sticking too strictly to an archetype tends to make your characters boring, and stagnant. You do need to utilize them however, because if you say have a character that switches what category they fall in rapidly without good reason you will only confuse your reader. I mean, we didn’t see Frodo (everyman) turn into Gandalf (paragon/sage) in the end of the Fellowship of the ring.

So lets build a character from scratch right now.

Ok, so we are going with “everyman” in this example. It is can be a common archetype for the main character of a book. They are easy for the reader to relate to, and tend to struggle with similar things that most people struggle with. They don’t normally possess any extra ordinary skills either.

What kind of physical traits should he/she have? Well, we should probably make sure they are close to “average” maybe a little taller/shorter, a little more/less strong than their peers, and have a certain yearning to become something more than what they are now.

So lets make this a female character, who is a little taller than average, and while lacking extra strength physically she knows how to use her height to win a fight if she needs to. She has brown hair that sits just above her shoulders in length, and has a natural wave to it. She has fierce green eyes, and a thin face with a few freckles on her cheeks.

There we go. We have the appearance of a character, but that is only the beginning. Now you need to have a couple story decisions before you can do much more. For instance, is this your main protagonist? Lets say she is, what kind of character traits should she have? Well kind and loyal are both normal protagonist traits, but we don’t want to fit the mold too closely so how about we go the route of loner and suspicious of others?

We have a couple of character traits now, that’s a good start. But it doesn’t mean much without context now does it? Which is what the first part character building truly is at its core: Giving the reader background information about characters in a story over the course of many chapters. You can start your first chapter and revel your character’s appearance, and even dominant traits within the first few pages. Explaining  as the story goes on what struggles they face going forward, and have already faced help the reader to understand what this character is all about.

So say about five chapters in you find out that due to the betrayal by a close family friend, she lost her younger brother to a group of bandits and doesn’t know if he is even alive. That would explain why she tends to be suspicious of others and why she tends to be a bit of a loner.

The next part of Character Building is growing your characters over the course of the story. Our green eyed protagonist is forced to work with another girl and that girl’s brother in order to proceed the plot. This makes the character uncomfortable, and forces them to adapt to new situations they have previously avoided. Being placed in uncontrollable circumstances is another trait of the “everyman” and one that is fairly universally kept.

Now you have a growing opportunity for the protagonist. They could work with others better as a result of this situation, voice their distrust which could lead to emotional growth, or even out right fail and see it as justification of their previous feelings causing them to grow more callous towards others. Growth is necessary regardless of what traits your character ends up growing into. It makes the reader gain more emotional connection to the characters, look at Harry Potter. He started something of an “everyman” and towards the end took on the mantle of “the hero”. That growth took place over several books, and countless situations. In the end he even changed archetypes (which is also okay, when there is enough supporting information for it).

You as a writer weave the story, and build the world, and the characters within it. By using effective world building, and character building you can write memorable stories for people to enjoy for generations. These are your two greatest tools as a writer. You must learn how to use them effectively if you wish to create great stories, and further yourself in the art. Of course you can also just use the information to make better creative narratives for a school assignment as well, so to each their own haha.

That is all for this week, I hope this explanation made sense to all of you.

Until next time, may God bless you and keep you.

Basics of writing: World Building

Hey everyone,

This week in the basics of writing, we will be covering World Building. Well, world building within fiction anyway.

So what is world building?

As the name implies world building is a building of the world in which your story takes place. Setting the stage for the reader. Forging a world to get lost into.

So it’s like, the supporting details about the places the story takes place in?

Yes, and no.

World Building is far more than just a couple of lines that set the atmosphere. It does much more than just describe the difference between scenes. The goal is to make this land of fantancy feel just as impactful as the world in which you read the book from.

Which gets us to why it’s important.

Character dialogue is great inside a story. Epic conflicts, growth (physical and emotional), and accomplishments are all awesome to read. None of these and more, have any lasting impact without effective world building.

If you don’t believe that the place exists, how are consequences meaningful? Can you achieve something in your mind only? No, not really. Yet stories can make you feel accomplished, despite not really existing outside your mind. This is due to effective world building.

So we have covered the what and the why of this subject. Now let’s dive into the how.

This is something that is easy to mess up when starting to write. Books especially require well thought out world building to keep a reader hooked. This can be solved by trying to find natural ways for your story to answer some questions about itself.

Those questions could be like:

  • How do people earn money in this area?
  • What are common modes of transportation?
  • What does the political scene look like?
  • What do people eat?
  • What are the species of this world?

And the list can go on forever. The point is, don’t be afraid to draw paralels and contrasts to our world. Don’t force it though, that can break emersion. For instance:

Say people can’t ride horses in this country. A poor way to explain that could be.

“It is illegal to ride a horse in this region. We’ll have to walk.”

That sentence doesn’t help develop more out of the world, rather it just places the obstacle and tells you people ride horses. A better way to do this would be:

“Riding horses in this region became illegal some time ago. It is due to the king becoming gravely injured while riding a horse as a child. It would be best if we simply walked instead”

You see the second does a few extra things (besides just increase the word count). It establishes a monarchy in the region. A passage time is implied, which builds a local history. It can be assumed that the ruler of this region is cautious, and wishes to keep his subjects safe (albeit in an overprotective way).

World Building answers questions the reader might not have known to ask. It keeps you thinking about the settings and characters within the story. These are key to keeping interest of your audience, and crafting an emersive world.

Well that’s all I have about the basics of writing when it comes to world building. Until next time, may God bless you and keep you.

Last chance to get The complete trilogy for free!

Hey everyone,

The KDP free book promotion ends today for The Sage of Hytrae trilogy!

Fill out the holes in your collection, or grab the whole thing before it returns to $5 a book.

Thank you to the hundreds of people who have grabbed a copy of one or more of my books. If you liked them, please consider leaving a review. Without reviews Amazon’s algorithm can’t suggest it to new people. It’s one of the major obstacles to overcome being self published.

Thanks again everyone! And remember, Don’t feed the Jacob’s.

The Sage of Hytrae trilogy is Free Today!

Hey everyone!

Today (and until July 8th) all three of the sage of hytrae books are free to buy on amazon kindle! This is in celebration of a Summer of reading, to help promote more reading through the summer months (especially while in school). So tell your friends, nieces, nephews, kids, grandkids, parents, whoever you know who likes reading or needs to read more!

The Crystal seal (book 1): https://www.amazon.com/Crystal-Seal-Sage-Hytrae-Book-ebook/dp/B00VFKJ78A/

The Candescent Vessel (book 2): https://www.amazon.com/Candescent-Vessel-Sage-Hytrae-Book-ebook/dp/B01CDIBY2E/

The Sorcerer’s Gamble (book 3): https://www.amazon.com/Sorcerers-Gamble-Sage-Hytrae-Book-ebook/dp/B07KSQTZ2B/

Grab a copy of each today and get a great adventure for the best price out there… Free!

oh, and if you liked them please leave a review. It really helps us self published authors to be discovered by new readers. Thank you for reading!

Free Reads in July

Hey everyone!

I might not have a normal update this month, but I’ve got something better for everyone… Free books!

The entire Sage of Hytrae trilogy will be Free starting July 4th, and until July 8th. This marks the first time you can pick up the entire series for free since the series concluded late last year! This kind of deal won’t likely happen again so don’t miss out, links to each below.

The Crystal Seal: https://www.amazon.com/Crystal-Seal-Sage-Hytrae-Book-ebook/dp/B00VFKJ78A/ref=sr_1_3?keywords=the+sage+of+hytrae&qid=1562072159&s=gateway&sr=8-3

The Candescent Vessel: https://www.amazon.com/Candescent-Vessel-Sage-Hytrae-Book-ebook/dp/B01CDIBY2E/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=the+sage+of+hytrae&qid=1562072159&s=gateway&sr=8-2

The Sorcerer’s Gamble: https://www.amazon.com/Sorcerers-Gamble-Sage-Hytrae-Book-ebook/dp/B07KSQTZ2B/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=the+sage+of+hytrae&qid=1562072159&s=gateway&sr=8-1

Why would I give away literally every book I’ve written, so far, away for free you ask?

Well two reasons. First to hopefully gain some reviews. Without reviews on my books people don’t get them recommended to them, they don’t show up on anyone’s list of reads from amazon, and they don’t show up well on amazon search results. If I can get the books into a few thousand hands for free, my hope is at least 1% of them leave reviews. This helps me long term.

The second reason I am giving them away is to help promote summer reading. These books target a large age demographic. From late elementary to Jr high all the way up to your grandma, is an age you could enjoy these books. It is beneficial (especially in school) to read over the summer. It helps your grades at the beginning of the next school year plus keeps you entertained during down time through the summer.

A couple things people have told me in person about the book (which I wish had been left as reviews online haha):

“Easy to pick up, hard to put down” – Young adult

“I don’t normally read this sort of thing, but I honestly enjoyed it a lot” – somebody’s Grandma

So my hope is to get some copies out there one way or another. Don’t miss out to get the entire adventure for the best price out there… Free!

Please note, Only the kindle ebook’s are free during this time frame. It would be quite difficult to talk amazon into giving away paperbacks haha.